One of the first gymnasts to reach Caryn Sanders with a congratulatory hug in Friday's county meet was the very competitor who was deniedthe outright all-around championship by the talented Old Mill senior.
Meade junior Mollie Bell had watched Sanders score a 9.25 in thevault to leave the two girls tied in the all-around at 36.55. Severna Park senior Jenny Banks took second at 33.95, followed by teammate Beth Hoisington at 33.40.
Sanders also propelled host Old Mill to the county team title, dethroning Severna Park, 123.95 to 120.95. Both schools qualified for the regional-state meet Thursday at Glenelg in Howard County.
Bell already had completed her evening by recording a 9.2 on the beam, herhighest mark ever in the event. She also scored career highs in the uneven bars (9.0) and floor exercise (9.1).
"I really surprised myself," she said before Sanders had taken her final turn on the vault."I didn't think I had done that well on the beam. I was a little wobbly."
Mustangs coach Carolyn Shrewsbury said, "I'm proud of Mollie. She put together an outstanding meet."
Sanders cleared the mat on her first vault and stumbled at the finish, resulting in a 9.05. But she found better results on the second, pressure-filled attempt.
"I had to concentrate very hard. I had to think about the team score, which took some of the pressure off, but not all of it," she said.
Sanders captivated the audience with an exceptional floor routine that resulted in a 9.45 -- the meet's highest score. But her 8.8 on the beam --despite a nice round-off layout full-twist dismount -- prevented her from winning the all-around outright.
"I was disappointed with the beam. I usually score in the 9's, but I wobbled during my routine," said Sanders, the lone county girls representative on the Maryland State Gymnastics Team, which competes in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 6-9.
"Mollie's a great competitor. If there had to bea tie, I'm glad it was her," she said.
Severna Park entered the competition as the prohibitive favorite, but that changed when junior Tracie Miller and freshman Erin Winchell were lost on the day of the meet.
Miller was withheld by her coach, Bonnie Habicht, because ofa question concerning the eligibility of the competitor in the all-around.
The controversy stemmed from a possible violation of the state's "outside participation" rule. Miller apparently skipped an out-of-county meet this season to compete in a regional tournament with her club team, the Timonium-based Rebounders.
"Rather than take a chance before anofficial ruling, I decided not to compete her," Habicht said.
Paul Rusko, the county's coordinator of physical educationand athletics, said a ruling will come from a local arbitration committee. "We'll be able to talk more about it after next week," he said.
With Miller already forced out, the Falcons suffered another loss when Winchell fell during the last practice rotation on the uneven bars and sustained a fractured left arm.
Still, with Banks and Hoisington leading the way, Severna Park managed to secure a spot at Glenelg.
"I give the girls all the credit," Habicht said. "I guess they made up their minds they would do it, and they did."
Banks, whohad two second- and one third-place finishes, said, "We felt we needed to pull together more as a team. We had a lot of confidence. It was a downer, but we dedicated the meet to them."
Hoisington took third in the uneven bars and vault, fourth in the floor exercise and fifth on the beam.
Another prominent gymnast who missed Friday's meet was Annapolis sophomore Karen Thompson, who recently underwent reconstructive knee surgery after tearing a ligament in March. Last year,Thompson won two events and tied for first in another to edge Millerand Bell for the all-around title.
Arundel took three of the fourchampionships in the "specialists" category, led by Robyn Healey in the vault and floor exercise. Teammate Karen Hickey took first in theuneven bars, and Chesapeake's Kim Miller was victorious on the balance beam.
Team scores: Old Mill -- 123.95; Severna Park -- 120.95; Arundel -- 116.45; Chesapeake -- 106.05; Broadneck -- 94.5; Meade -- 90.1; Annapolis -- 76.7.
All-around: 1st --(tie) Caryn Sanders (OM) and Mollie Bell (ME), 36.55; 2nd -- Jenny Banks (SP), 33.95; 3rd -- Beth Hoisington (SP), 33.40.
Floor exercise: 1st -- Caryn Sanders (OM), 9.45; 2nd -- Mollie Bell (ME), 9.10; 3rd -- Jenny Banks (SP), 8.90.
Balance beam: 1st -- Mollie Bell (ME), 9.20; 2nd -- Jenny Banks (SP), 8.85; 3rd -- Caryn Sanders (OM), 8.80.
Vault: 1st -- (tie) Caryn Sanders (OM) and Mollie Bell (ME), 9.25; 2nd -- Jenny Banks (SP), 9.05; 3rd -- Beth Hoisington (SP), 8.90.
Uneven bars: 1st -- Caryn Sanders (OM), 9.05; 2nd -- Mollie Bell(ME), 9.00; 3rd -- Beth Hoisington (SP), 8.25.